Hey there Guys and Gals and welcome to Track Day Recollection! Today we are taking a look back at our last track day at Sonoma on May 19th. As some of you may know we were gunning to break the 2 minute mark at Sonoma with a 1:59 or better (that’s a whole 3 seconds off our last time!).
Come Sunday we set a new PB, but not the kind you thought. As some of you may know we had a random storm in the bay area that weekend… That’s right, we ran Sonoma and set a PB in the wet. It was intense and interesting to say the least, but that’s why you’re here! For more details on the day!
Starting off our morning the drive to Sonoma looked promising, but by the time we got to 780 and 80 the freeways were drenched in water, and with more gracing us from above, we had a good idea of the track day directly ahead of us. Pulling up to Sonoma the rain had subsided, so we had some time to unpack and get the car – and ourselves – situated after that painful drive in. Fresh at the track and out of our drivers meeting we went to go and set the car up with her race tune, but we came to find that the SCT was in need of an update, so we were stuck running the first 2 sessions on the track with a normal driving tune. Fast forward to lunch where our buddy Dave showed up to save the day, and we finished the last 2 sessions on the race tune. Not like it was truly needed though.
Sonoma is an entirely different animal in the wet. That statement is an obvious one as driving conditions everywhere are different in the rain, but Sonoma is a little something different. Let me tell you what I mean by that…
Out of the hot-pits into turn 1 and cresting into turn 2 the top of the hill is like ice. Take the turn too quickly and you’ll find your rear sliding out on you. Not so far away from the rumble strips out of 2 you will notice a bunch of mud that is finding its way on to the track. Most likely from the guys before you who went off. Heading into 3 you see a river starting to form of mud and water as you pass into 3a. Here you may find yourself having the rear come out from you as you counter right, just as you may also counter left once through 3a and down to 4. Luckily there isn’t much to worry about on your way to 4, but its after you’re into 4 and heading to 5 that you may encounter more mud from offs. Turn 5 is fairly simple. Still fast, but not at full speed in comparison to a dry track. You enter turn 6, the carousel, and while driving through you think to yourself, “oh, this isn’t all too bad!” only to immediately see a lake at the bottom of 6 aided by another stream running down and off to the right. Running out of 6 and into 7 it may not be totally clear yet, but there’s patches of water everywhere heading into 7. Talk about traction! Taking 7 and 7a still feels about the same as when dry, but if there’s cars ahead of you into 7 get ready for tons of water to spray your windshield. If you have one (sorry Radical guys). Getting out of 7a and prepping for 8 and 8a you will notice you can’t hit the apexs as hard as you want due to the lack of traction throughout that whole section. You may also find your car taking a weekend stroll for the wall out of 8. If you’ve made it this far then kudos to you! There’s still more to endure as you may have a lot of speed out of 8a and into 9, but it’s the section between 9 and 10 where the road gets tricky again. Just like heading into 7 you have a bunch of patches on the track with miniature lakes. You may find yourself drifting here, or on your way to visit the walls. After you left skid marks out of 10 (ahem) you’re on your way into 11 and hopefully with some speed. Nothing too different about 11, so long as you stay away from the rumble strips and don’t just send it. Otherwise enjoy a 180. Now you’ve made it this far! almost done with lap 1! All that’s left is turn 12! You get some traction out of 11, and are ready to gap those miatas and slow corvettes, but just as you’re going to grab the apex at 12. You come to notice another huge lake. Right there. In 12. That lake is 12. And that is a lap in the wet at Sonoma. There is a wet race line to run at Sonoma, but this was just a look at the normal line if you had never run Sonoma in the wet like us.
All in all the event was great and we learned a lot out there in the wet. Would we do it again? Only if it were a race. That’s it though. Our best time was a 2:21; we almost did a 2:18, but the session had come to a close.